Are the distinctions between past, present and future, and the apparent ‘passage’ of time, features of the world in itself, or manifestations of the human perspective? Questions of this kind have been at the heart of metaphysics of time since antiquity. The latter view has much in common with pragmatism, though few in these debates are aware of that connection, and few of the view’s proponents think of themselves as pragmatists. For their part, pragmatists are often unaware of this congenial application of their methodology; some associate pragmatism with the other side of the old debate in the metaphysics of time. In my view, this link between time and pragmatism only scratches the surface of the deep two-way dependencies between these two topics. The human temporal perspective turns out to be deeply implicated not merely in our temporal notions themselves, but in many other conceptual categories – arguably, in fact, in all of them, and in the nature of language and thought. In this way, reflection on our own temporal character vindicates James’ famous slogan for global pragmatism: ‘The trail of the human serpent is thus over everything.’
Martha Nussbaum has provided a sustained critique of Cicero’s De officiis (or On Duties), concerning what she claims is Cicero’s incoherent distinction between duties of justice, which are strict, cosmopolitan, and impartial, and duties of material aid, which are elastic, weighted towards those who are near and dear, and partial. No doubt, from Nussbaum’s cosmopolitan perspective, Cicero’s distinction between justice and beneficence seems problematic and lies at the root of modern moral failures to conceptualize adequately our obligations in situations of famine and global inequality. And yet a careful reading of Cicero’s On Duties shows many duties that appear to be partial. It is hard to believe that Cicero’s discussion of these “partial duties” was a mere oversight or omission on his part. Rather, Cicero seemed to have no problem endorsing what I will call the “partial coherence” of duties in the work—namely, the claim that asserting that duties are exhaustively partial or impartial is a false dichotomy. With the help of conceptual analysis by Richard Kraut, my paper aims to establish and defend Cicero’s “partial coherence” against Nussbaum’s criticisms.
We analyse insufficient epistemic pluralism and associated problems in science-based policy advice during the COVID-19 pandemic drawing on specific arguments in Paul Feyerabend’s philosophy. Our goal is twofold: to deepen our understanding of the epistemic shortcomings in science-based policy during the pandemic, and to assess the merits and problems of Feyerabend’s arguments for epistemic pluralism as well as their relevance for policy-making. We discuss opportunities and challenges of integrating a plurality of viewpoints from within and outside science into policy advice thus contributing to discussions about normative issues concerning evidence and expertise in policy-making.
Self-verifying judgments like I exist seem rational, and self-defeating ones like It will rain, but I don’t believe it will rain seem irrational. But one’s evidence might support a self-defeating judgment, and fail to support a self-verifying one. This paper explains how it can be rational to defy one’s evidence if judgment is construed as a mental performance or act, akin to inner assertion. The explanation comes at significant cost, however. Instead of causing or constituting beliefs, judgments turn out to be mere epiphenomena, and self-verification and self-defeat lack the broader philosophical import often claimed for them.
The ancient Chinese philosopher Zhuangzi (4th c. BCE) often contradicted himself, or at least made statements whose superficial readings stood in tension with each other. This self-contradiction, I contend, is not sloppy, nor does it necessarily reflect different authorship of different parts of the text or different stages in the development of Zhuangzi's thought. …
Genre discourse is widespread in appreciative practice, whether that is about hip-hop music, romance novels, or film noir. It should be no surprise then, that philosophers of art have also been interested in genres. Whether they are giving accounts of genres as such or of particular genres, genre talk abounds in philosophy as much as it does the popular discourse. As a result, theories of genre proliferate as well. However, in their accounts, philosophers have so far focused on capturing all of the categories of art that we think of as genres and have focused less on ensuring that only the categories we think are genres are captured by those theories. Each of these theories populates the world with far too many genres because they call a wide class of mere categories of art genres. I call this the problem of genre explosion. In this paper, I survey the existing accounts of genre and describe the kinds of considerations they employ in determining whether a work is a work of a given genre. After this, I demonstrate the ways in which the problem of genre explosion arises for all of these theories and discuss some solutions those theories could adopt that will ultimately not work. Finally, I argue that the problem of genre explosion is best solved by adopting a social view of genres, which can capture the difference between genres and mere categories of art.
Aquinas, Ockham, and Burdan all claim that a person can be numerically identical over time, despite changes in size, shape, and color. How can we reconcile this with the Indiscernibility of Identicals, the principle that numerical identity implies indiscernibility across time? Almost all contemporary metaphysicians regard the Indiscernibility of Identicals as axiomatic. But I will argue that Aquinas, Ockham, and Burdan would reject it, perhaps in favor of a principle restricted to indiscernibility at a time.
In everyday justifications offered on behalf of contested claims, simply noting that someone once said something about case X offers little or no help in substantiating a claim about case Y, regardless of how esteemed the speaker may have been. For instance, if I want to know how many people live in Greater Manchester today, it is of very little help to cite the remark by Friedrich Engels, in The Condition of the Working-Class in England in 1844, that Greater Manchester “contains about four hundred thousand inhabitants, rather more than less” (Engels 1892, p. 45).
What is the ontology of a realist quantum theory such as Bohmian mechanics? This has been an important but debated issue in the foundations of quantum mechanics. In this paper, I present a new result which may help examine the ontology of a realist physical theory and make it more complete. It is that when different values of a physical quantity lead to different evolution of the assumed ontic state of an isolated system in a theory, this physical quantity also represents something in the ontology of the theory. Moreover, I use this result to analyze the ontologies of several realist quantum theories. It is argued that in Bohmian mechanics and collapse theories such as GRWm and GRWf, the wave function should be included in the ontology of the theory. In addition, when admitting the reality of the wave function, mass, charge and spin should also be taken as the properties of a quantum system.
Brouwer’s intuitionistic program was an intriguing attempt to reform the foundations of mathematics that eventually did not prevail. The current paper offers a new perspective on the scientific community’s lack of reception to Brouwer’s intuitionism by considering it in light of Michael Friedman’s model of parallel transitions in philosophy and science, specifically focusing on Friedman’s story of Einstein’s theory of relativity. Such a juxtaposition raises onto the surface the differences between Brouwer’s and Einstein’s stories and suggests that contrary to Einstein’s story, the philosophical roots of Brouwer’s intuitionism cannot be traced to any previously established philosophical traditions. The paper concludes by showing how the intuitionistic inclinations of Hermann Weyl and Abraham Fraenkel serve as telling cases of how individuals are involved in setting in motion, adopting, and resisting framework transitions during periods of disagreement within a discipline.
For many, dementia disrupts basic ideas about what it means to be human, raising profound philosophical and theological questions on the nature of personhood. In this article I ask what dementia might reveal about personhood in a “secular age.” I suggest that the ill-fitting relationship between Western bioethics, with its emphasis on autonomy, and dementia throws into relief the boundaries of a secular self, and I tease out the ethical implications of the limits of those boundaries by highlighting a biopolitics of secularism. Lastly, I offer a theological account of dementia that situates dependence as a central feature of the human condition, and enriches a secular biomedical understanding of this neurocognitive disorder.
The effects of repression on dissent are debated widely. We contribute to the debate by developing an agent-based model grounded in ethnographic interviews with dissidents. Building on new psychology research, the model integrates emotions as a dynamic context of dissent. The model moreover differentiates between four repression types: violence, street blockages, curfews and Facebook cuts. The simulations identify short-term dampening effects of each repression type, with a maximum effect related to non-violent forms of repression. The simulations also show long-term spurring effects, which are most strongly associated with state violence. In addition, the simulations identify nonlinear short-term spurring effects of state violence on early stage dissent. Such effects are not observed for the remaining repressive measures. Contrasting with arguments that violence deters dissent, this suggests that violence may fuel dissent, while non-violent repression might suppress it.
This paper attempts to reconstruct the views of the Stoic Posidonius on the emotions, especially as presented by Galen’s On the Doctrines of Hippocrates and Plato. This is a well-studied area, and many views have been developed over the last few decades. It is also significant that the reliability of Galen’s account is openly at issue. Yet it is not clear that the interpretative possibilities have been fully demarcated. Here I develop Galen’s claim that Posidonius accepted a persistent, non-rational aspect of the soul that he connects with the merely animal part of humans. The aim is to begin from this testimony in answering two questions: (1) How might the possession of a non-rational element of the soul operate alongside the hêgemonikon (leading-part of the soul) as a source of impulse for Posidonius. (2) How does this persistent animal aspect conform to the Stoic ontological classification found in their scala naturae? I shall argue in response to these that (a) Posidonius distinguished the merely cognitive aspects of the soul from those that are rational, and (b) that the hêgemonikon itself is not to be identified with what is rational. Accepting a persistent non-rational source of emotional impulses allows Posidonius a richer framework for explaining human affective responses and behaviours. I also briefly address Galen’s motivation for the account he offers. It is in view of Posidonius’ approach to Plato’s Timaeus that Galen’s discussion finds its most plausible interpretation.
I once opened a fortune cookie containing the message, ‘All happiness is in the mind;’ it is still affixed to my refrigerator. I did not put it there to signal assent so much as ripeness for further investigation. As befits the genre, it is a wise-sounding pronouncement. If we think of ‘happiness’ as a state of mind, as we moderns do almost reflexively, then the pronouncement would be trivial. But presumably it is intended to be substantive. To understand it we need to know what substitutions are permitted for ‘happiness.’ The well-lived life? What is naturally sought, perhaps ultimately? Well-being? We also need to probe the phrase ‘in the mind.’ For students of philosophy, it could be tempting to read ‘mind’ as soul or even self—familiar translations of the Greek psuche. In that case, we are being told that what we human beings seek, perhaps ultimately, turns on the condition of our soul. I could potentially get on board with this, but a lot depends. Are we talking about an absence of sin? Psychological health? Facility with rational powers?
This paper examines attempts to rehabilitate fanaticism by drawing on its supposed contribution to combatting injustices like slavery. Radical campaigners against slavery called themselves ‘fanatics’, but in the pejorative tradition fanaticism almost invariably has a negative connotation. On the account given here, the supposed virtues of fanaticism are the actual virtues of something with which it is easily confused: radicalism. The abolitionists were not fanatics but radicals. Nevertheless, philosophical apologists for fanaticism are right to raise questions about the merits of moderation. After a critical examination of some arguments for the view that moderation is the quintessential political virtue it is concluded that, depending on the circumstances, both moderation and radicalism can play the role of corrective virtues.
It is sometimes said there are two ways of formulating Newtonian gravitation theory. On the first, matter gives rise to a gravitational field deflecting bodies from inertial motion within flat spacetime. On the second, matter’s accelerative effects are encoded in dynamical space-time structure exhibiting curvature and the field is ‘geometrized away’. Are these two accounts of Newtonian gravitation theoretically equivalent? Conventional wisdom within the philosophy of physics is that they are, and recently several philosophers have made this claim explicit. In this paper I develop an alternative approach to Newtonian gravitation on which the equivalence claim fails, and in the process identify an important but largely overlooked consideration for interpreting physical theories. I then apply this analysis to (a) put limits on the uses of Newtonian gravitation within the methodology of science, and (b) defend the interpretive approach to theoretical equivalence against formal approaches, including the recently popular criterion of categorical equivalence.
We argue that the epistemic functions of replication in science are best understood by their role in assessing kinds of experimental error. Direct replications serve to assess the reliability of an experiment through its precision: the presence and degree of random error. Conceptual replications serve to assess the validity of an experiment through its accuracy: the presence and degree of systematic errors. To illustrate the aptness of this view, we examine the Hubble constant controversy in astronomy, showing how astronomers have responded to the concordances and discordances in their results by carrying out the different kinds of replication that we identify, with the aim of establishing a precise, accurate value for the Hubble constant. We contrast our view with Machery’s “re-sampling” account of replicability, which maintains that replications only assess reliability.
Logical empiricism is a philosophic movement rather than a set of
doctrines, and it flourished in the 1920s and 30s in several centers
in Europe and in the 40s and 50s in the United States. It had several
different leaders whose views changed considerably over time. Moreover, these thinkers differed from one another, often sharply. Because logical empiricism is here construed as a movement rather than
as doctrine, there is probably no important position that all logical
empiricists shared—including, surprisingly enough, empiricism. And while most participants in the movement were empiricists of one
form or another, they disagreed on what the best form of empiricism
was and on the cognitive status of empiricism.
Below is a short piece I just published at The Journal of Confucian Philosophy and Culture, on the ancient debate between Mengzi and Xunzi about whether human nature is good and the light that 20th century racial atrocities might cast on the question. …
The placebo effect is now generally defined widely as an individual’s response to the psychosocial context of a clinical treatment, as distinct from the treatment’s characteristic physiological effects. Some researchers, however, argue that such a wide definition leads to confusion and misleading implications. In response, they propose a narrow definition restricted to the therapeutic effects of deliberate placebo treatments. Within the framework of modern medicine, such a scope currently leaves one viable placebo treatment paradigm: the non-deceptive and non-concealed administration of ‘placebo pills’, or open label placebo (OLP) treatment. In this paper I consider how the placebo effect occurs in OLP. I argue that a traditional belief-based account of OLP is paradoxical. Instead, I propose an account based on the non-doxastic attitude of pretence, understood within a fictionalist framework.
Welcome to the Brains Blog’s Symposium series on the Cognitive Science of Philosophy. The aim of the series is to examine the use of empirical methods to generate philosophical insights.The use of diverse methods in research on causal cognition has come with a plurality of theories about how causal cognition works. …
In a recent paper, Kerry McKenzie identifies theory change in science as a source for doubts about the value of engaging in metaphysics of science before a final theory is at hand. According to McKenzie, the basic problem is that naturalized metaphysics lacks a concept of progress. More specifically, naturalized metaphysics lacks a concept of progress as approximation that can easily be taken to correspond to the scientific sources of naturalized metaphysical inquiry. In this paper, we criticise the proposed concept of progress as approximation as too narrow a concept, notably, even in science, and propose an alternative notion of scientific progress that metaphysical investigations can and do latch on to, namely progress understood as exploring and constraining theory space. First, we motivate this notion of progress via an examination of progress in particle physics and propose that it can be applied to metaphysics as well. Second, we argue that this notion of progress leads to a convincing reply to McKenzie’s argument. Third, we discuss how this notion of progress relates to the program of naturalized metaphysics and argue that it speaks in favor of a more lenient version of naturalistically-inclined metaphysics, namely inductive metaphysics.
In the literature on enactive approaches to cognition, representationalism is often seen as a rival theory. In this paper, I argue that enactivism can be fruitfully combined with representationalism by adopting Frances Egan’s content pragmatism. This representational enactivism avoids some of the problems faced by anti-representational versions of enactivism. Most significantly, representational enactivism accommodates empirical evidence that neural systems manipulate representations. In addition, representational enactivism provides a valuable insight into how to identify representational content, especially in brainless organisms: we can identify representational content by investigating autopoietic processes.
Spinoza claims that the mind and body are one and the same. But he also claims that the mind thinks and does not move, whereas the body moves and does not think. How can we reconcile these claims? As a way of sharpening the challenge, let’s restate it as a puzzle involving Spinoza’s favorite philosophical character: Peter. Spinoza seems committed to both of the following claims: 1a. Peter’s body moves and does not think, whereas Peter’s mind thinks and does not move. 1b. Peter’s body and Peter’s mind are numerically identical. But these claims are mutually inconsistent with the Indiscernibility of Identicals, a principle that many regard as an obvious truth (Sider 2001, p. 4), and perhaps even a logical truth (e.g., Tarski 1994, p. 50). 1c. If x and y are numerically identical, x instantiates a property if and only if y instantiates that property.
In this paper, my focus will be on some central aspects of Jenefer Robinson’s influential work ‘Deeper than Reason’, more specifically on the role our emotional responses play in art appreciation and the value attributed to the ensuing emotional experience. Whereas Robinson argues (1) that bodily responses, and our awareness of these bodily changes, can provide us with information relevant to the appreciation of artworks, and (2) that in some cases affective empathy is necessary to artistic understanding, I want to raise two concerns about whether this position holds for artworks conveying self-conscious emotions. Such emotions are of particular interest in this context since, in the first place, self-conscious emotions can, in fact, be experienced without moving us physiologically in a full-fledged sense. These higher cognitive emotions, also known as non-primary or intellectual emotions—including guilt, shame, embarrassment, pride, or nostalgia—are not automatically triggered but require self-evaluation. And, unlike the basic emotions, they are also believed to lack stereotypical expressive or behavioural features. Second, self-conscious emotions are unavailable to affective empathy since they are known for involving self-directed cognition. As we will see, it is this tight connection to the self— where the ‘self’ is both the subject and the particular object of the emotion—which makes it difficult to take the emotional perspective of another person.
Cicero’s ethical and political writings present a detailed and sophisticated philosophy of just war, namely an account of when armed conflict is morally right or wrong. Several of the philosophical moves or arguments that he makes, such as a critique of “Roman realism” or his incorporation of the ius fetiale—a form of archaic international law—are remarkable similar to those of the contemporary just war philosopher Michael Walzer, even if Walzer is describing inter-state war and Cicero is describing imperial war. But if it is clear that Walzer presents a detailed philosophy of just war, then I argue we should draw the same conclusion for Cicero. The result is a deeper appreciation of the insight and novelty of Cicero’s view of just war. The paper concludes by arguing against the claim that Cicero’s philosophy of just war is derivative from the Stoic philosopher Panaetius, whom Cicero drew upon in the organization of his On Duties. Just as Walzer’s Just and Unjust Wars was written in response to America’s war in Vietnam, Cicero’s just war philosophy was written in response to the wars (both civil and external) of Gaius Caesar.
Valerie Gray HardcastleInstitute for Health InnovationNorthern Kentucky UniversityI agree that novel tool use is connected to significant conceptual and theoretical advancement in science. Indeed, I believe that technological advancement is the primary limiting factor in neurobiological theory development. …
Social metaphysics is a source of important philosophical and moral insight. Furthermore, much social metaphysics appears to be substantive. However, some have recently argued that standard views of metaphysics cannot accommodate substantive social metaphysics. In this paper I offer a new diagnosis of this problem and defend a new solution, showing that this problem is an illuminating lens through which to examine the nature and boundaries of metaphysics. This case instantiates a broad, common pattern generated by attempts to align distinctions between realism and anti-realism, mind-independence and mind-dependence, and legitimate and non-legitimate inquiry. I show that the best response is to abandon the association between substantive metaphysics and mind-independence, and I sketch a new definition of substantivity, given in terms of explanatory power, that makes room for substantive social metaphysics while also offering an attractive basis for general metaphysics.
There is a dimension of rationality, known as structural rationality, according to which a paradigmatic example of what it means to be rational is not to be akratic. Although some philosophers claim that aesthetics falls within the scope of rationality, a non-akrasia constraint prohibiting certain combinations of attitudes is yet to be developed in this domain. This essay is concerned with the question of whether such a requirement is plausible and, if so, whether it is an actual requirement of aesthetic rationality. Ultimately, this paper defends the view that aesthetics is no different from other domains in that it requires coherence between a subject’s mental states (in our case, between what is judged and what is aesthetically liked). Keywords: rational requirements, structural rationality, aesthetic akrasia, aesthetic rationality, aesthetic appreciation.
This paper considers the debate between teams of skilled contributors versus a genius by focusing on a specific case: a team project to overturn some remarks by Wittgenstein on Frazer’s The Golden Bough. In theory, there can be a team which does this, but in actual practice, such a team seems unlikely to arise.